Archive for the ‘snow’ Category


October 27, 2008

I had no intention of writing a blog about the weather.  Then, last winter was so intense that I couldn’t help writing about the snow piled up against our door. And it kept coming and I kept commenting on it, seeing that our life was pretty consumed with ice and snow and twenty below for several months straight.  But I figured it was just one of those years and I deserved to dwell on it a bit, but I’d get past it.  Then we had the floods that rose up in large part from all the snow we had, and well I had to talk about the floods.  But that too was an anomaly, worth talking about but I’d move on from the weather.  Well, I’m here to say that today the weather went from a beautiful sunny late October sunday morning to an ominous gray windy late novemberish afternoon to, you guessed it, snow this evening.  No accumulation or anything, but it definitely took me by surprise.  We’ve barely gotten the roads straightened out from the abyssal potholes from last year and the snow is knocking on our door.  Hmmm, am I ready?  Let me put that Bear Republic stout that I’ve been saving into the fridge and I’ll get back to ya.

So this is spring

March 28, 2008

Yesterday was the first day of my spring break, and the whole day was a gray, drizzly, snowy washout. Today everything is coated with an inch of snow. 19 degrees right now and the sun is a dazzling mid-winter flash. I love winter, but I was certainly ready for it to be done. This is not exactly how I envisioned starting spring break, but I must say it’s a breathtaking morning. If I were one to wake a little more quickly (I’m up early, but that doesn’t mean I’m really awake until mid-morning) I’d have gotten the camera and snapped a few shots. Frankly, I’m more concerned with the next cup of coffee and staring out at the dazzling sight–and breathe a sigh of relief that I can already see it dripping away and remember that just a few days ago, I was taking stock of the bulbs that were starting to sprout around the yard, the sedum that were just starting to break out, and the first shoots of lilies and daisies starting to appear. By noon I’m guessing the snow will be gone, unlike a mere month ago where every inch kept piling up on themselves showing no signs of disappearing. Just a gentle reminder, I guess, but I’m not so sure of what…

Can there be too much snow?

February 21, 2008

It’s been a real “old-fashioned” winter here in Iowa this year (although I’m not sure what the term means–is that, like, pre-global-warming?). 50 some inches with several very serious ice storms thrown in for good measure in mid-december. Temperatures lately have been hovering between 10 below and 10 above. This last snow storm in particular was far too cold for salt on the roads to do anything. We’ve been driving on solid ice rather than road surface. My drive to Mt. Vernon on a nice, scenic rural route has been like Siberian permafrost, drifting shut every night with snow piles higher than my little mazda on both sides of the road. The driving in particular I think is wearing Iowans down.

That said, I’ve really been loving it. It is absolutely beautiful and my drive home at sunset the other night with wispy sundogs flaring through the frozen atmosphere was absolutely transcendental, the fields of drifting snow in the blue twilight like the sea rolling in toward the road. We’ve been out hiking many times in the bitterly cold and really there’s nothing like it. Sounds take on a different texture; the crystalline world reflecting every possible fragment of light. For me, winter is great as long as it stays winter. Once it starts pretending to be spring but really only offering days of damp bone-chilling grayness (I find those damp days in the low 30s much more unbearable than the dry subzero days), then my spirit begins to sag a bit. But that’s march; here in the frozen tundra of February I’m happy. And even in the deepest midwinter, I found myself walking across campus yesterday morning, brilliant sunshine and a balmy 5 below and there they were: the cardinals have started their spring songs and several were belting them out at full volume. Quite surreal and wonderful.

My only complaint then with all this serious weather is I have nowhere left to throw any snow. One more serious snow and I just may lose my back. Here’s a sample:


Mardi Gras Blizzard

February 6, 2008

We had a lovely 13 inches or so of snow for Mardi Gras here in Cedar Rapids. So, as the snow dumped outside, the pot of veggie gumbo boiled away (Boca sausages and Qorn chicken tenders if you want to know) with some sourdough bread and Dixie Blackened Voodoo and Abita Turbodog and plenty of Dr. John, Clifton Chenier, Steve Riley, Earl King and others on the stereo. Yes, I know the Dixie is kind of silly, the New Orleans heritage now brewed in Wisconsin, huh? It’s not that great of a beer either but I had to see how it was doing. The Abita, now, that’s another story. I know Abita sometimes gets a bad name, but I actually like their beer–the turbo especially–but maybe it’s just because it really says New Orleans to me and I love the city. Sometimes I guess it’s hard to distinguish taste from emotion.

On other fronts, my new class is up and running and their blog is starting out nicely. It’s a new process for me, but I like the opportunities it offers. It’s a matter of sorting through what I can do with it and then really thinking about the why. Of course, this early in the class, I’ve already realized an added benefit I hadn’t really considered. With this much snow, we’re missing several sessions but I can still hold conversations with them or ask them to have conversations amongst themselves. This is especially important at Cornell where it’s silly block plan (they take, and we teach, one course at a time for 3 1/2 weeks) means that missing a day really means missing a week in semester-time. I know, I know, I can already hear my colleagues saying “it’s not a silly plan” and to some extent I agree. I am constantly amazed at the innovative ways my colleagues design these courses. So, yes, it’s just silly to me. But the blog at least makes me feel less guilty about not driving in the ice and snow. A nice bonus.